Frank Chopp (left) and John Lovick

Frank Chopp (left) and John Lovick

In state House, one historic era ends and another begins

Chopp is out as speaker. Lovick is in, and already dealing with next steps in two investigations.

OLYMPIA — The Frank Chopp era is over.

Washington’s longest-serving speaker of the state House of Representatives quietly exited on Friday from the seat of power he occupied through two decades.

The Seattle Democrat, who evolved into one of the most dominant political forces in state history during his reign, submitted a short resignation note to the chief clerk, collected a few last belongings and by early afternoon had cleared out of the office.

And the John Lovick era began.

That same Friday afternoon workers scraped Chopp’s name from the door and put up Lovick’s along with the title Acting Speaker.

Lovick, a Mill Creek Democrat and former Snohomish County executive, moved in Monday, making history the moment he sat down.

He is black, the first person of color to be given the duties and responsibilities of House Speaker. Though the gig is temporary — he’ll serve until January when a new speaker is elected by the full House — it’s no less a barrier-breaking accomplishment.

“I am proud to stand on the broad shoulders of a lot of people who served (in the Legislature) before me,” Lovick said.

Before Chopp departed, the two men spent a couple hours going over the levers of power Lovick would control. On Lovick’s first day, he made a point to meet the men and women employees, partisan and non-partisan, who are the gears of the legislative machinery he’ll be steering.

“There’s so much structure in place,” Lovick said. “This is a well-oiled machine that runs exceptionally well.”

Lovick spent part of the first week wrestling with separate reviews of two House members.

One involves Democratic Rep. Jeff Morris of Mount Vernon. A complaint concerning Morris’ managerial manners prompted caucus leaders late last year to launch a fact-finding inquiry and likely contributed to the veteran lawmaker losing a committee chairmanship in the 2019 session.

Jeff Morris

Jeff Morris

That report is finished and some of its recommendations are getting implemented. Yet the report, including its findings and recommendations, hasn’t been released despite requests from reporters.

“I want to look at it, read it myself,” Lovick said. He also said he wanted to talk with House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, and caucus Chairman Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, on Wednesday about the situation. “I want to be sure this is done properly.”

The other involves an investigation of Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane. This is a little more complicated.

Shea is not accused of any wrongdoing in the workplace. The conservative’s political behavior is inciting the probe.

Matt Shea

Matt Shea

The Guardian newspaper has reported that Shea engaged in Internet chats in 2017 with three other men proposing to confront “leftists” with a variety of tactics, including violence, surveillance and intimidation.

Recently, 55 Democratic state lawmakers, including Lovick, called on House Republican leaders to reprimand Shea for what they view as his abhorrent action. A few Democrats wanted to vote for Shea’s expulsion in the session — but Chopp didn’t let that happen.

However, before Chopp left, he did make sure Chief Clerk Bernard Dean got the go-ahead to look into what transpired. Dean said he’s evaluating what kind of private investigator to hire since the concerns center on Shea’s actions outside the legislative workplace. It could be weeks before anyone is selected, he said.

Lovick wants to tread cautiously.

“I frankly don’t think there’s any reason not to afford (Shea) his due process,” said Lovick, a retired state trooper and former Snohomish County sheriff.

It’s only been a couple days, but Lovick is relishing his new role. He’s also aware how big the shoes he’s filling.

“Frank’s a good friend,” he said. “Moving into the office that Frank’s been in for 20 years, it’s very difficult for me.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Why should the threat to Taiwan concern us in WA? | Brunell

Unfortunately, what happens in Taiwan doesn’t just stay in Taiwan — it… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Election 2021: Closer look at King County races | Roegner

The race for Mayor of Seattle will dominate the regional media, but… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Questions surround vaccine exemptions for state workers | Roegner

With about 4,800 state employees in 24 agencies requesting vaccine exemptions, which… Continue reading

Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray serves as Faculty of English at Highline College. Her research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India.
What the Afghan wants to say: Arezo’s journey to America | Guest column

In our little Zoom room, I hear my interviewee break into sobs.… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Can a Texas-style abortion law happen in Washington? | Roegner

If politicians really want to anger women voters, the easiest way is… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Reasons to ban Gov. Jay Inslee’s natural gas ban | Brunell

Column: Switching from natural gas to electricity is complicated and will impact everyone.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Vaccinations improve our health and employment numbers | Brunell

It is not surprising that COVID-19, which ravaged the world, was disastrous… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Firefighters vs. the governor’s vaccine mandate | Roegner

We all thought we were in this fight with the coronavirus together,… Continue reading

Providence employees look at anti-vaccine mandate protesters as they cross the street outside of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Aug. 18, 2021. Olivia Vanni/Sound Publishing
Editorial: A message to the unvaccinated and unmasked

We know you’re frustrated with mandates and advice, but consider our frustrations and, yes, our anger.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Back to the classroom during abnormal times | Roegner

If it didn’t feel so normal, we might forget about the coronavirus… Continue reading

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
What’s up with the real estate market? | Guest column

As we all know, the residential real estate market and prices have… Continue reading

9/11 Memorial in Cashmere, Washington. Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
Twenty years after tragedy brought us together | Guest column

Recently, I was reflecting on where I was and what I was… Continue reading